200 Nicaraguans applying for asylum in Costa Rica every day
It's being reported that the number of asylum applications has increased exponentially in recent months.
CAPE TOWN – An average of 200 Nicaraguans a day are applying for asylum in neighbouring Costa Rica, according to reports.
CNN is reporting that the number of asylum applications has increased exponentially in recent months, as Nicaragua enters its fifth consecutive month of anti-government unrest.
Nearly 8,000 asylum claims by Nicaraguans have been registered in Costa Rica since April. According to the United Nations, 15,000 more have been given appointments for later registration.
At least 300 people have died since anti-government protests in Nicaragua began in April. The government claims the death toll is 195.
On Monday, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega rejected the idea of calling a referendum on whether to hold an early election, while the United States said it was revoking visas of Nicaraguan officials connected to a crackdown on protesters.
Ortega has faced growing international condemnation for heavy-handed deployment of police and armed pro-government civilians to squash the unrest, which led to nearly 300 deaths and many more people injured since protests began three months ago.
In an interview with CNN en Español broadcast on Monday, Ortega rejected the idea of a referendum on holding early elections in a bid to calm opposition against him.
“There is no sense in an early election,” he said, suggesting the opposition would not accept an unfavourable result. The next presidential election is due in late 2020.
Still, Ortega said he was keen to restart dialogue, following a lull in clashes after security forces flushed protesters from strongholds in a lethal offensive earlier this month.
“We are going to see how to create the conditions to strengthen the dialogue commission and (have) this help us have good results,” he said.
The US government has also secured the return of vehicles donated to the Nicaraguan national police that have been used to suppress the protesters and cut off additional sales and donations of equipment that might be used against protesters, it said.
The demonstrations were triggered by a plan by the government to trim pension benefits. The government’s response sparked a wider protest against Ortega that he has labelled a conspiracy to topple his elected government.
The White House described the Nicaraguan protests as demanding democratic reforms after years of fraudulent elections and repression of opposition parties and independent media.
Additional reporting by Reuters.
(Edited by Shimoney Regter)